Wild Hen of the Woods

Monica with hen of the woods fungi

Passing an old oak tree today looking in the grass for pink purslane, the old giant whispered to me as I walked past. As she did the thought entered my head “I bet there are hen of the woods around here.” I looked over my shoulder and what did I see, nestling in autumn leaves at the foot of that tree? 

Wild hen of the woods. One of my favourite fungi and so much tastier than the cultivated ones. 

Official statistics for the monster hen of the woods (Grifola frondosa) – also known as Maitake: Weighing in at 8.3 kilos (18.3 lbs) and 52 cm (20.5 in) diameter.

Despite the enormous size of this specimen it was in absolutely perfect, prime condition. Heavenly smell, firm but not fibrous white flesh and, thanks to the recent frost, hardly a beetle to be found – three to be precise!

There’ll be soups and pâté, roast, grilled and fried maitake. Maitake tikka masala, fragrant Thai hen broth, hen in a pot, and feasting for weeks. And when we’ve expired on sofas, dried hen of the woods for seasoning next year!

#fungi #foraging #wildfood

For the health benefits of Maitake mushroom see this info from Napiers the Herbalists. 


  1. About that whispering that plants do: Late yesterday evening I cut my ring finger top, right hand. Too dark to forage anything outside I just put a stretch plaster on it. This morning I found your blog after looking up woundwort on google. So after some reading I left our caravan to go to the front garden to collect a woundwort leaf. I had taken two steps away from the caravan door when my eye spied flowering woundwort right next to the caravan. I hadn’t seen that before. I requested a leaf from the plant and applied it to my fingertip, fastened with stretch plaster. I think it was an immediate reaction that the ache subsided.
    I am of the opinion that plants answer our needs if we are aware enough of them to realise.

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